WordPress powers 43% of all the websites on the internet today and 64.2% of all CMS-based sites. That’s nearly half the internet and more than a majority of content sites.
It has to be for a good reason, right?
Yes, it is. WordPress makes content publishing easy with its user-friendly interface, powerful features, customization options, and cost-effectiveness — not to mention the active community of users and developers helping each other by resolving bugs, submitting code, debugging, and sharing knowledge.
But with great power comes great responsibility. In as much as WordPress makes content publishing simple, it’s not impervious to challenges.
Today, we uncover 7 WordPress challenges that content publishers face and provide solutions on how to overcome them.
Challenge #1: Security Vulnerabilities
Cyberattacks are as real as it gets. Hackers are always looking for ways to gain access to your website and wreak havoc.
A successful cyberattack can cause irreparable damage to your content, reputation, and bottom line.
You’ll lose your customers’ trust, spend tons of cleaning up the mess created, and waste valuable time that you could have used running your business.
Worse, you may find yourself in the crosshairs of the law for failing to protect your customers’ data.
So, why is WordPress such a prime target for hackers:
- WordPress is an open-source platform, meaning all its code files, including its plugin, are accessible to everyone. That makes it easier for hackers to identify and exploit your site’s vulnerabilities.
- WordPress is also very popular, so if hackers succeed in attacking one site, many others with similar setups are likely to be vulnerable too.
- WordPress has attracted many beginner developers, most of whom don’t understand the potential risks of not updating their websites or using outdated plugins.
- Most plugins and themes are developed by third-party developers. The lack of quality control means that some may contain malicious codes.
Remember, WordPress itself is actually very secure. If you have the right security measures in place, it’s practically hacker-proof.
Hackers tend to target outdated WordPress installations, exploitable plugins, and vulnerable themes.
That means if your website hasn’t been updated for months, there’s a high possibility that it can be hacked.
The same goes for a poorly coded plugin or theme, with security holes that hackers can exploit.
So, how do you combat these?
Here are some of the best practices to keep your WordPress site secure:
#1. Make sure your WordPress Installation is Up to Date
Always use the latest version of WordPress and any plugins or themes you have installed. You can do this either manually or by setting up automatic updates.
Sound easy, right?
Yes, it is. But even with this, more than half of WordPress sites were still not up to date in 2021.
#2. Only Install Plugins from Trustworthy Sources
As mentioned earlier, there are no quality control measures for WordPress plugins. So, make sure you only install plugins from trusted sources.
Be sure to go through reviews and ratings before committing to a plugin.
#3. Choose a Secure Web Host
Find a web host with built-in security measures and malware scanning capabilities.
These hosting providers also specialize in WordPress, so they can detect and fix any vulnerabilities before they become a problem.
You must ensure it has data backups in case something goes wrong.
#4. Choose a username for the logins instead of using “admin” as the default
That will make it harder for hackers to guess your login credentials
Use a secure password and two-factor authentication to secure your account further.
#5. Install an SSL Certificate
An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate adds an additional layer of encryption to your website, making it harder for hackers to intercept data.
All these simple precautions will go a long way in helping you keep your WordPress site secure and hackers at bay.
Challenge #2: Slow Performance
Nobody likes a slow website. It hampers user experience and frustrates visitors, leading to higher bounce rates and loss of potential customers.
The industry-wide belief is that webpages should load within 2 seconds. Otherwise, you’ll lose a significant chunk of visitors to your competitors.
Loading time is also a well-known ranking factor on Google. Other factors held constant, the faster your website loads, the higher it’ll rank.
Too bad WordPress is notorious for its slow performance. And the usual culprits are an excessive number of plugins installed, poorly coded themes and plugins, inefficient hosting, and bloated files.
All these factors slow down your website.
So, how do you make sure your WordPress site loads quickly?
First, run your website through a speed checker such as Website Grader or Google Pagespeed Insights.
The tool will scan your website and tell if it’s fast or slow and what you can do to fix it.
Next, switch to a good WordPress hosting plan specifically designed for WordPress, such as Kinsta or WP Engine.
These hosting providers are specially optimized for WordPress and offer features like caching and optimized server configurations.
You also want to use a WordPress Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Cloudflare or StackPath to reduce latency and speed up loading times. A CDN essentially caches copies of your website on different servers worldwide. That way, when users visit your website, they get a copy of the page closest to them.
Don’t forget to compress images and other files, as they can take up a lot of space. You can use a plugin like Imagify or ShortPixel to do this.
Challenge #3: Do-it-Yourself Product
Many web builders, such as Wix and Squarespace, only require you to sign up, choose a template, make a few tweaks, add some visuals, edit the content, and you’re done.
The problem with WordPress is that it’s a do-it-yourself product. You need to choose a hosting plan, install WordPress, find the suitable theme and plugins, and set up your website from scratch — that’s a lot of work for complete beginners.
The WordPress CMS is actually a very stripped-back CMS with relatively very limited features out of the box. To get it up and running, you need to find and install a theme, customize it, and then add plugins to extend the functionality of your website.
While you can find a theme and plugin for almost anything you can think of — from membership sites to ecommerce stores — it takes a lot of time and effort to customize it to your needs.
And it’s not just about adding content and designing your website. You must also manage the site’s backend functionality. That includes finding the right plugins for marketing, SEO, page builders, email marketing, and more.
You don’t necessarily need to know how to code, but you need some technical knowledge if you’re looking for something more than a basic WordPress site.
So, how do you get around this?
There’s no clear-cut solution here. But it mostly comes down to finding the right tools for your website. If you’re a beginner, you can use drag-and-drop page builders like Elementor or Beaverbuilder to create and customize pages without coding knowledge. That demands you invest more time learning, but it’s worth it.
You can also hire a professional WordPress developer to customize your website and reduce the DIY workload.
WordPress alternatives such as Shopify and Squarespace do most of the heavy lifting for you, but they are more expensive and lack some of WordPress’s features.
So, weigh your options carefully before making a decision.
Challenge #4: Plugin Dependency
With over 60,201 free plugins available, WordPress is one of the most extensible CMSs available. With a few clicks and no coding knowledge, you can turn your website into an ecommerce store, a membership site, multilingual, etc. — the possibilities are endless.
But that doesn’t come without a few pitfalls.
Plugins are great but can also cause problems if not properly managed.
First, plugins are the most common cause of security vulnerabilities.
Second, plugins can slow down your website if not properly configured and optimized.
Third, plugin dependency can cause compatibility issues with other plugins or themes, resulting in broken pages and unexpected error messages.
Finally, plugins need to be regularly updated to stay up-to-date and secure.
So, how do you manage plugin dependencies?
The easiest way to avoid these issues is to stick with the basics and only install the necessary plugins. If you don’t need a feature, don’t install the plugin.
Second, before installing any plugin, do your due diligence and carefully research it. Read reviews, check the ratings, read user comments, and look for compatibility issues.
Third, be sure to always install the latest versions of WordPress, themes, and plugins. Set up automatic updates if you can.
Finally, if you’re running a complex website with many plugins, consider investing in a premium plugin manager such as ManageWP or WP-Rocket. These tools automate the plugin management and updating process, making it much easier and more secure.
Challenge #5: Confusing Errors
You’ll encounter plenty of errors when using WordPress. Sometimes, it’s the fault of plugins or themes that have compatibility issues or bugs. Or as a result of incorrect configurations or server errors.
One of the most common errors you’ll encounter is the white screen of death
So, how do you troubleshoot errors in WordPress?
WordPress may tell you there’s an error, but it won’t tell you how to fix it. That’s why you need to be prepared for such situations — and know how to troubleshoot them when they arise.
One trick is deactivating all the plugins and switching to a default theme. That will help you narrow down the issue related to plugins, themes, or something else. If that works, you can start activating plugins and themes one by one until you identify the source of the issue.
If you can still access your WordPress dashboard, you can head over to your plugin page, bulk-select all plugins, and then deactivate them.
Try reloading the page to see if it works. If it does, your issue is related to a plugin or theme. You can then start reactivating them one by one until you identify the culprit.
You have to note that some errors may prevent you from accessing your admin dashboard. If that’s the case, then the only option you’ve got is to deactivate the plugins via the cPanel or FTP client.
The idea is to log in and then find the plugin folders from the /wp-content/plugins/ folder. Go ahead and rename this folder from “plugins” to something else, such as “plugins_deactivated.” That will prevent WordPress from loading any plugin, thus disabling them all at once.
After that, check to see if the problem is solved. If it works, return to your plugin folder and rename it to “plugins” again.
Deactivate all the plugins by adding the letter “deactivated” at the beginning of each plugin folder name. For example, “Akismet” should become “deactivated_akismet,” and so on. With every plugin you deactivate, check to see if the issue is solved.
Once you identify the problem plugin, delete it and replace it with a working version. In some cases, you might have to contact the developer for help.
As a last resort, if everything else fails, it may be time to consult a WordPress expert. A professional can help you troubleshoot and identify the source of the problem.
Challenge #5: Theme Selection
There are over 10,631 free WordPress themes in the WordPress theme repository.
You also have the option to purchase premium themes from professional WordPress theme companies or marketplaces such as ThemeForest.
With such a large selection, you may feel overwhelmed and confused about which theme to use for your website. Each theme has its unique features and design elements.
How to Select a WordPress theme?
When selecting a theme, you should consider its design, responsiveness, speed, and features. You must also ensure it is up-to-date and compatible with the latest WordPress version.
Plus, make sure the theme developers are responsive and provide support.
Even more important, make sure the theme isn’t bloated with a lot of unnecessary features. Such themes tend to slow down your website and cause issues with other plugins.
It helps to use a staging environment to test out different themes before using them on a live site. You can install XAMPP or Local by Flywheel and download a fresh WordPress install.
You can then test different themes and their features to see what works best for your website.
Finally, once you’ve selected a theme, please review the documentation and ensure you understand how to use it. It will help you avoid any surprises when you make the switch.
Challenge #6: Spammy Comments
Spammy comments can be a real nuisance and make your website look unprofessional.
Most of the time, they are caused by automated programs that crawl websites and post comments with links to other websites.
They’re irrelevant, not helpful, and generally annoying.
Some even include abusive language, offensive content, hate speech, and other inappropriate content.
How to Deal with Spammy Comments?
To combat spam comments, you can use the Akismet plugin or install CAPTCHA to verify if a comment is coming from a real person.
You can also moderate comments so they can only appear on your website after you approve them.
You also want to delete any comments that you consider irrelevant or inappropriate.
Challenge #7: Website Maintenance
Your WordPress website can’t survive without regular updates and maintenance.
You should always keep your WordPress version, plugins, and themes up-to-date.
Make sure you have a backup plan in place, just in case something goes wrong.
You should also regularly audit your website to check for broken links, security issues, and other potential problems.